Reading My Own Books

Do you ever find that you have a pile of books in your home that you just don’t get around to reading? I have a number of books in my collection that maybe I’ve read in the past and want to re-visit, or that I’ve purchased but have never found the time to read! A few years ago I read Howard’s End is on the Landing: A Year of Reading From Home  by Susan Hill. In it, as the title states, the author spends an entire year reading only those books that she owned and had in her home. From the sound of it, her collection was much more extensive than mine, but it inspired me to look at the books in my home and give them some much-needed attention.

The majority of the books that I read are borrowed from the library. It’s always fun going to the library, picking out books to bring home, and returning them when I’m finished! It’s like shopping without spending any money!!! Love it!!! I have my own personal library at home which sometimes gets neglected in terms of getting through the books that I own. There’s no rush to return them by a due date so sometimes they sit for months without being read. I’m pretty choosy about what books I actually purchase, so for a book to be in my personal collection means it has to be pretty special.

I’ve decided to change that this year and actually spend time with those books that I’ve purchased or received as gifts. This year I’m planning on getting through a few more of my own books so I’m dedicating the next 1-2 weeks to reading my own books that reside on my bookshelf.

Here’s a pic of the books that I’ll be choosing from.

Some are re-reads, but those are being used for my Reading Challenge Prompts so they’re still on my TBR list for the year (and I allow myself to do re-reads for this Challenge). I usually try to include books on my shelves as part of my reading challenge. New reads are: Mossflower, Slacker, William Shakespeare’s The Force Doth Awaken, and Treasure Island.

I’m pretty excited at the thought of actually getting through books on my shelves, some for the first time and some for a long-overdue visit to catch up! The purpose of this mini-challenge is to read those books that I’ve chosen for prompts on my 2018 Reading Challenge. Depending on how many books I get through in this time period, I might repeat this mini-challenge again during the year.

Wish me luck!!


Swing Low: A Life

2018 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book about mental health: Swing Low: A Life  by Miriam Toews

This was a really interesting non-fiction book. Here’s the description on the back cover: “One morning, Mel Toews put on his coat and hat and walked out of town, prepared to die. A loving husband and father, faithful member of the Mennonite church and immensely popular school teacher, he was a pillar of his close-knit community. Yet after a lifetime of struggle, he could no longer face the darkness of manic depression. In Swing Low, his daughter Miriam recounts Mel’s life as she imagines he would have told it, right up to the day he took his final walk. A gracefully written and compassionate recounting of a man’s battle with depression in a small Mennonite community, Swing Low is a moving meditation on illness, family, faith and love.”

It’s an interesting look at the mental health of this one man, who seemed to be such a passionate and fun teacher…yet when he was at home he completely just went into himself and needed time to himself. It caused me sadness when he made the decision never to talk about it to anyone.

If anyone is interested in the field of mental health, this would be an excellent read to add to your list. The book is sad, funny and profound. And what a project for a daughter to take on: writing about her father who suffered from this disease.

Red 5 gives this book a 3/5!!

*My progress for the Canadian Book Challenge is 19/13!!

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

2018 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with two authors: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

“Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a children’s book packed with 100 bedtime stories about the life of 100 extraordinary women from the past and the present, illustrated by 60 female artists from all over the world. This book inspires girls with the stories of great women” (Goodreads)

This is such a great book, filled with stories of rebel girls throughout history that changed our world in huge ways and in ways that have not yet been fully realized. This is an excellent book for people of all ages, not just girls and women. I can’t wait to share this book with my sons as I know they will find the stories and artwork interesting. Each story is one page in length with the opposite page featuring an artist’s rendition of that person. The artists are all women as well and I made sure I read each name as I went through the book; in recognition of those incredible women as well who share their talent with the world through this book.

I read this book in one afternoon…on the day before International Women’s Day. It seemed to be a fitting choice and it was so interesting to learn things about girls/women I had never known much about!

One thing that I had a slight issue with was the fact that out of 100 girls, only one of those was Canadian. The lone Canuck featured in this book was someone I had no idea even existed (Ann Makosinski, who is in her early 20s). She is an inventor who had the idea for a new flashlight that doesn’t need any power source except that of body heat. Sounds like a great and innovative idea and congrats to Ann for making it into this book! However this lack of any of other Canadians got me thinking about which Canadian girls and women are missing from this book? Such names as L.M. Montgomery, Viola Desmond, Jennie Trout, Mary Two-Axe Earley, Doris Anderson, and Mary Ann Shadd just to name a few. If you don’t know some of these women, please look them up and discover their stories! Canada’s history is full of women

Red 5 gives this book a 4/5!!

Pride and Prejudice

2018 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with alliteration in the title: Pride and Prejudice  by Jane Austen

The classic novel, Pride and Prejudice, has been a favourite of mine for years, in all its different versions (books, movies). I read it for the first time in university and fell in love with the story Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. My appreciation for those characters went deeper with the BBC production starring Colin Firth as Darcy, and also the film Bridget Jones’ Diary in which Firth stars as Mark Darcy. Love that he was in both versions!

Pride and Prejudice “tells the story of fiercely independent Elizabeth Bennett, one of five sisters who must marry rich, as she confounds the arrogant, wealthy Mr. Darcy. What ensues is one of the most delightful and engrossingly readable courtships known to literature, written by a precocious Austen when she was just twenty-one years old. Humorous and profound, and filled with highly entertaining dialogue, this witty comedy of manners dips and turns through drawing-rooms and plots to reach an immensely satisfying finale.” (Goodreads).

I listened to the audiobook version this time around and I find I’m really enjoying this form of book! It allows me to listen/read while going for a walk, making supper, working out, or cleaning. And the British actor who read the book lends just another note of authenticity to reading a work by Austen.

Red 5 gives this (audio)book an enchanting 5/5!!


They Called Me Number One

2018 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you: They Called Me Number One  by Bev Sellars

The author, former Chief Bev Sellars, grew up in British Columbia and attended residential school in that province. This book is about her experiences in the residential school and how that formed her as she moved on into adulthood.

I really enjoyed this book and it was a very interesting read; it kept me hooked over the few days it took to read. I liked the fact that she had a stable home-life where she could return to on holidays. I’ve read a few books on this topic, people’s experiences with residential school, and this one is quite good. A great addition were the photographs interspersed within the book! Always great to see pics of some of the people talked about within the book (mainly Sellars’ family members).

I think everyone should read this book as a part of learning about the history of our country, and hearing the voice of this author as she shares her story/experience.

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

Someone said that I am a survivor but I believe I am much more than that. I prefer to claim outright victory in this war against the residential-school experience. Even though I sometimes barely survived, I didn’t become one of the terrible statistics of Aboriginal people. In the end, I win! Residential school did not manage to beat the Indian out of me and my Aboriginal pride just keeps getting stronger. I look around and I see many more like me. It makes my heart swell and it makes me hopeful for the future of our Aboriginal nations. I win.” (page 191)

Love that quote!!!

Red 5 gives this book a 3/5!!

*My progress for the Canadian Book Challenge is 18/13!!

Les Miserables

Reading Challenge Prompt: A book that is also a stage play or musical: Les Miserables  by Victor Hugo, (Manga edition: English script by Stacy King)

This is the classic tale of love and tragedy by Victor Hugo, the characters of Jean Valjean, Fantine, Cosette, and Inspector Javert. Years ago I saw the 1998 movie version starring Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush but have never read the book since then (or seen the more recent movie version starring Hugh Jackman). So the story was still fairly new to me and it was like seeing/reading it again for the first time.

Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean—the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread—Les Misérables ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it, Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them to the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose. Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier, and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérables gave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait that resulted is larger than life, epic in scope—an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart. ” (Goodreads)

I decided to have some fun with this prompt and chose a version written and illustrated in the Manga format. This was my very first experience in reading Manga and once I got accustomed to it, it was pleasant to read. It went against my every instinct of reading left to right but it’s always good to try something new! The artwork was really great and definitely added to the story. Having read the Manga edition, obviously there was a lot of detail that the artists/author couldn’t include, but it sums the story up quite nicely.

Red 5 gives this book a 2/5!!

The Gracekeepers

2018 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book set at sea: The Gracekeepers  by Kirsty Logan.

“As a Gracekeeper, Callanish administers shoreside burials, laying the dead to their final resting place deep in the depths of the ocean. Alone on her island, she has exiled herself to a life of tending watery graves as penance for a long-ago mistake that still haunts her. Meanwhile, North works as a circus performer with the Excalibur, a floating troupe of acrobats, clowns, dancers, and trainers who sail from one archipelago to the next, entertaining in exchange for sustenance. In a world divided between those inhabiting the mainland (“landlockers”) and those who float on the sea (“damplings”), loneliness has become a way of life for North and Callanish, until a sudden storm offshore brings change to both their lives – offering them a new understanding of the world they live in and the consequences of the past, while restoring hope in an unexpected future.” (Goodreads).

This book was set mostly at sea as there is very little land left in the world. The characters live on boats or on islands, and boats seem to be the main form of transportation from one place to another.

This was an interesting concept of a story; not the most amazing book I’ve ever read but it was a fairly quick read. I enjoyed how bits of the story were revealed to the reader over the entire book. It kept things interesting! Just when I thought I knew what was going on and had everybody figured out, something else would be revealed!

The artwork on the cover really set the tone for the story for me, it helped create the world that I pictured in my head. A peaceful and subdued setting which was then a contrast to the noisy and bright world of the circus and the performers.

Red 5 gives this book a 2/5!!